Man pleads not guilty in attempted murder

East Baltimore resident shot youths for refusing to leave stoop, police say

October 11, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

William Banks, the East Baltimore man accused of shooting three youths after a group of boys refused to move from his stoop, pleaded not guilty yesterday to attempted first-degree murder and plans to argue self-defense at his trial, his attorney said.

Circuit Judge Evelyn O. Cannon set a trial date of Feb. 4 for Banks, 60, who also faces several handgun charges. If convicted, Banks could be sentenced to life in prison. Assistant State's Attorney William Cecil is prosecuting him.

Before his arraignment, Banks sat quietly. Several times, he glanced back at his wife and sister, who sat in the courtroom.

The shooting of the youths occurred two weeks after another Baltimore man, Edward Leon Day, fatally shot a 15-year-old boy who police said was trying to steal a bicycle from Day's back yard.

Some residents viewed Day and Banks as victims of wayward youth, while others said both men had gone too far in their attempts at vigilante justice.

Police said Banks confronted several youths outside his home in the 100 block of N. Decker Ave. about 1 p.m. on July 28. After failing to persuade them to move, Banks walked past them and toward his van parked in front of the rowhouse, police said. According to investigators, he turned and fired several shots with a .38-caliber handgun.

He then walked into his house and called emergency dispatchers, saying he had shot several people and had his weapon with him, police said.

William James, 15, of the 1100 block of Poplar Grove St., suffered gunshot wounds to his left arm. Dominique Byrd, 11, of the 100 block of N. Ellwood St., was shot in the hand. And Barry Bolling, 18, of the 100 block of N. Potomac St., was shot in the chest and hand.

All of the boys were treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital and released.

"He called police after the incident," his attorney, Murray M. Blum, said in an interview after the arraignment yesterday. "I will need to review the evidence and speak to witnesses and neighbors.

"Mr. Banks is extremely remorseful about the incident," Blum said. Banks told police after his arrest, according to court papers, "I am tired. That's all I asked was for them to give me space, or move off my steps."

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